New York University’s School of Professional Studies celebrated the 25th anniversary of its master’s in publishing program on November 17 with a ceremony and panel discussion with alumni focused on the future of the publishing business. Since NYU SPS launched the program in 1996, it has graduated nearly 900 students, said Andrea L. Chambers, associate dean at the Center for Publishing and Applied Liberal Arts.
“In the early years, the program was print-based and heavily focused on the business of publishing,” she noted, explaining that the curriculum has evolved with the industry. “As digital media began to grow in importance and influence, the program pivoted significantly, adding courses in all aspects of digital content development, distribution, and metrics for determining success.” It’s also expanded to cover such topics as social media, analytics, podcasting, and audience development.
“As immersive media grows in importance, we will integrate that into the curriculum, as well,” she added.
At the event, Chambers, who has helmed the program for 15 years, also received special recognition for her continued leadership and determination to help it grow.
We recently spoke with Chambers about the tools publishing professionals need today. (And look for more on the NYU publishing program in the Feb. 13, 2023, issue of PW.)
What’s the one quality publishing professionals need to succeed in this evolving business?
I don’t think one quality can capture what is necessary to succeed in this business. Several things come to mind: nimbleness, curiosity, love of words, cultural awareness. Perhaps being an artful communicator of the issues of our times may sum it up best.
What steps do you take to ensure students do not find a disconnect between learning about publishing and working in the industry?
In the MS in Publishing program, learning about publishing and working in the publishing industry, or preparing to work in the industry, are deeply interconnected. The program emphasizes industry-based learning in every aspect of the curriculum. Students are producing videos, creating sales and marketing plans, analyzing live web traffic, editing manuscripts, participating in mock book auctions and sales conferences, launching hypothetical podcasts, and conducting social media audits—to name just a few of the classroom activities and assignments in the program. In the final course, the capstone, students develop a business plan for a new media venture.
In addition, we strive to expand classroom learning into the industry itself. Each semester we take students on industry visits to get an inside look at how publishing and media businesses operate and meet the teams involved. This semester, we have visited Little, Brown Books for Young Readers as well as NPR’s New York office to meet its podcast team, and next up in early December is Avid Reader Press at Simon & Schuster. Our students are invited to participate in major conferences like the U.S. Book Show, Digital Book World, and Comic Con. We also host public forums on key media issues for our students and the publishing community at large.
The publishing community has been an extraordinary partner in everything we do. Our faculty members are all key industry executives, including publishers, editors-in-chief, and top digital, sales, and marketing officers. They host industry visits, speak at our panels and conferences, serve as student mentors, and advise us on new industry trends. We have an extraordinary advisory board of top industry leaders who come together to help shape the curriculum and share ideas about what our students need to know now and in the future.
Our industry partners have been very supportive by providing internships and by constantly alerting us when positions open up at their companies. Recently, we launched a Diversity Scholarship initiative. The industry has been supportive of our efforts to provide funding to students from diverse backgrounds. Those who have contributed to this scholarship program include Penguin Random House, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Ulysses Press, and the Women’s Media Group.